Gravity – A 3D Experience

Gravity is the first film I’ve seen in 3D. The specs took a little time to get used to!  But what a film!! One of the best films of the last decade in my book. Very simple story and plot  but the realisation and the dramatic tension built up right from the beginning last right until the final scene. And the 3D actually works in favour of the story and the viewer engagement rather than being an addon gimmick. Watch the teardrop float towards you. Marvellous. Best Film Oscar of 2014. Well deserved. Sandra Bullock should have got the Best … Continue reading

Continuity Editing

I just reread my previous post on Continuity vs Montage Editing and thought that I undervalued continuity editing and concentrated too much on the montage end of the spectrum. I just want to rebalance the equation a little bit. Continuity editing is very much Hollywood in that directors wanted to tell stories that were relatively easy to follow for anyone who came to see the films. Whereas montage editing came from a much more artistic background where the appreciation of art was elitist in concept, continuity editing was designed to make following cinematic stories accessible to anyone and heavily linked … Continue reading

The New Epics

I thought I would just put down a few thoughts about what I call “The New Epics” – films with scope, ambition, flair, scale, and energy – that tell gripping stories of the human condition in a way that grabs the eyes and senses. You won’t find these at the cinemas regrettably but on TV. Lately, there have been several series that look like epics in that they are cinematic across a wide canvas telling cracking stories in vigorous and visceral ways. The two new Spartacus series create a whole new Roman aesthetic – combining razor sharp scripts and interesting … Continue reading

Feature Film on the IPhone?

I read recently that the celebrated Korean director, Park Chan Wook, previously mentioned in posts is to shoot his next feature film using the IPhone. Or more properly IPhones. His idea is to test out the technological capabilities of the IPhone and the immediacy it brings to shooting scenes. However, this will be no YouTube, homemade effort as he intends to treat the project as any other film project in terms of scouting locations, scriptwriting, lighting, the full production cycle. This is a serious film maker trying something different to see if it can offer a new way of realising … Continue reading

Unforgiven – Screenplay Excellence

I watched Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” last night again and marvelled at the screenplay by David Webb Peoples. There are many things to admire about it. As most of you will know the premise of Unforgiven is that a killer comes out of retirement after 11 years to do one last killing for money when he hears about a prostitute who has been disfigured by two cowboys. The story follows his journey and explores the debunking of western myths and the savagery underneath the newly civilised West. What interests me is that there is not a word out of place. Every … Continue reading

Elizabeth – The Ultimate Political Thriller

I watched Elizabeth on the TV the other night. Again. It must be the third or fourth time that I have seen the film. It never ceases to amaze me. It is the ultimate political thriller and still manages to rack up the tension even though you know she survives and thrives in the final analysis. The film stars Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth and a host of British character actors including Daniel Craig as a murderous priest and Richard Attenborough. It is directed by Shekar Kapoor. It is a type of film that the British do exceptionally well. Elizabeth is … Continue reading

Westerns – Part 5 – Rebirth

The western as a genre was dead until 1989 but was revived by, of all things, a made for TV mini series directed by an Englishman. That series was Lonesome Dove, a four part drama, that rekindled an American love for the western. It was made for the small screen but it had epic ambitions and made the old western traditions seem new and exciting. It is old Hollywood at the heart of it and retreads the traditional story lines making them seem fresh and interesting. The acting is exemplary as Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall bring life and … Continue reading

Westerns – Part 4 – Demise

The western died out in the early 1980s following the monumental disaster of Heaven’s Gate (1980). Not only did it bring a film studio to its knees financially but it made other studios extremely wary of investing in the genre. The underlying reasons though are not so much about the financial profligacy of the film but the fact the American public did not want to hear the message of the film which washed the country’s dirty linen in public. The Johnson County Wars was a particularly shameful and sensitive subject where the authorities sanctioned the murder of immigrant settlers. The … Continue reading

Westerns – Part 3 – Easterns

John Ford’s westerns have influenced so many directors throughout the world so it was not so much of a surprise when “westerns” started being made outside the Hollywood system. The most famous mutation of the traditional western was the spaghetti western. These were films made largely in Europe (Spain being the most believable location to double as Arizona or Texas) by Italians mainly that created an identifiable sub genre with its own characteristics. Important directors on the world stage came out of this movement such as Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci. Leone put his case forward as one of the … Continue reading